Keys to College Success: Make a Budget

Photo credit: Tax Credits (flickr)

Photo credit: Tax Credits (flickr)

Funny story: ever since elementary school my parents have told me and my sister that we’d be responsible for paying for our own college, car, etc. I thought it was pretty unfair at first (because what little 8-year-old would think that was fair?). However, as I grew up I realized that my parents weren’t trying to punish me: they were just trying to teach me responsibility. Now, as a senior with half a semester of college left, I can say that I finally get it. I understand that I can’t afford to be frivolous with my money and that I have to work hard in a job just as much as I have to work hard at my academics. So, how do I ever get to that point?

In between elementary school and college I saved everything I could. (I actually learned that I’m quite the little saver.) Since my bills (pretty much just my cell phone bill and gas for the car) until high school, I saved everything from my babysitting/house-sitting jobs. When I got to college the first thing I did was apply for a job. Granted, it was in the dining hall and probably one of my least favorite experiences, but I was able to save even more money while my school load was still relatively light.

In summary,

  • Know your future situation (are your parents going to help you with your finances? Are you going to be responsible for the whole total?)
  • Start saving as soon as possible
  • Look at your financial aid package to see the differences between your scholarships (free money) and your loans (money you’ll have to eventually pay off)
  • Budget without living too far beyond your means (I know that people need to go out every once in a while and have some fun)
  • Note that you don’t HAVE to wait until after college to start paying your loans back (in fact, if you have a job during college, paying on the loan interest will end up saving you lots of money in the long run)

Note: I planning on making a video when I have time that falls along the lines of this post. If that happens, I’ll be sure to upload it for you all to enjoy.

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